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Chinn's birdie run nets him U.S. Junior medalist honors
17 Jul 2018
by Julie Williams of AmateurGolf.com

see also: U.S. Junior Amateur Champonship, Inverness Club

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Kelly Chinn (USGA photo)
Kelly Chinn (USGA photo)

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (July 17, 2018) – In his USGA Championship debut this week at Baltusrol Golf Club, Kelly Chinn rose straight to the top. The 15-year-old earned stroke-play medalist honors and the No. 1 seed in match play by finishing 36 holes at 8-under 133. Chinn was two shots ahead of the Ricky Castillo and Karl Vilips.

Chinn, a high school sophomore from Great Falls, Va., played Tuesday’s second round on Baltusrol’s Lower Course (half the field played the Lower and half played the Upper Course). After an even-par 34 on the front and two bogeys to open the back nine, Chinn rolled off five birdies in his final six holes to finish at 3-under 67. Those birdies highlighted all parts of his game – from holing a 20-foot putt on No. 13 to nestling a 4-iron out of the rough to 3 feet on No. 15. Chinn’s impressive wedge play on Nos. 17 and 18 to set up birdies on the closing holes.

“I feel really good about my game, so I’m really excited for match play," said Chinn. "This is such a huge tournament. Just to be in it was amazing, and to be medalist would be really high on my achievement list."

Players had to endure a stoppage of play that exceeded four hours on Tuesday when heavy thunderstorms passed through the area. They dropped a considerable amount of water on the course, but maintenance crews kept Baltusrol playable when conditions allowed for a restart at 6:20 p.m. EDT.

Stroke play concluded shortly before sunset, but eight players must return first thing Wednesday morning to play off for the final three spots on the match-play bracket.

Cole Hammer, part of this year’s winning U.S. Amateur Four-Ball team, was happy to see the round finish after such a long delay. Hammer’s 4-under 137 left him tied for seventh and safely into match play.

“I am glad we don’t have to come out tomorrow morning and finish,” he told the USGA. “It’s nice and kind of the same schedule I have always been on for this tournament. I feel like I am prepared and playing well, I really have fun with match play.”

Australian Karl Vilips, last year’s Southern Amateur champion, began the day tied with Chinn, but a 1-under 69 wasn’t enough to allow the 16-year-old to keep pace. He finished stroke play at 6 under.

Ricky Castillo, of Yorba Linda, Calif., also finished on that number. Castillo, who will be a senior at Valencia High School, advanced to the Round of 16 at last year’s U.S. Junior.

“My game feels like it’s in the right place right now,” Castillo said. “I didn’t have any terrible shots so I didn’t really put myself in a bad position. I was just trying to play a solid game and get into match play. I wasn’t trying to look for anything crazy.”

The USGA contributed to this report

ABOUT THE U.S. Junior Amateur

While it is not the oldest competition, the U.S. Junior Amateur is considered the premier junior competition, having been around since 1948. The event is open to male golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 6.4. The U.S. Junior is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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